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The Ways of a Humanitarian

Updated on August 30, 2017

It takes a compassionate heart, a focused and selfless mindset and the willingness to give of your time, to live in the ways of a humanitarian. It’s a serious business, attending to others in need of health and general care in conditions where local government and institutions are absent or unavailable. It’s a business in need of everything you have to offer.

The humanitarian outlook

Selflessness. It’s not about you, it’s about the people you are helping. The foundation of humanitarianism is caring for the welfare of those who are in dire need and are, sadly, otherwise looked over. If your motivation to volunteer and be a humanitarian is for the “glory” of being a good person and receiving praise from others because of it, then you’ve already failed. Having the right sympathetic, concerned and sacrificing attitude is the first step towards humanitarianism.

There’s no space for discriminations and personal prejudices, so leave all of that at home. Better yet, get rid of them altogether. Every individual in need is an equal individual in need. No preferences, no bias and no negative or unfair classifications of who is more worthy of your aid based on who you favour for treatment.

Humanitarianism also requires an element of professionalism, as it goes with any occupation. It’s important to be knowledgeable and prepared for the environments you may find yourself in. This includes both the physical environment within the country you’re based, as well as the political conditions and laws that govern that country. Professionalism also relates to the ethical conduct and universal respect that should be applied when working as a humanitarian.

Be prepared for anything. You are inevitably going to be coming in contact with unimaginable living conditions and the people who are trying to survive in those conditions. You will be mentally, emotionally and physically challenged, but it’s important to confront these challenges and turn them into endurable experiences.

Finally, you need to remain constant in your efforts and mindset. Everything you have to offer can be useful in one or a few of the departments in an aid organisation. This is essentially a lifestyle change. If not to be put in practice through a charity, organisation or aid-based effort, then simply for the sake of being a better human being.

Volunteer your time

Organisations based on humanitarian aid are dependent upon a volunteering and donations system. Use your strengths and skills and find one of the many different ways of getting involved that you can commit to. Just like “charity starts at home”, first-time volunteers should start locally. The experience is great on your CV for when you decide to look into volunteering on a global scale and there’s no better place to humble yourself into a serving mindset than in the place you grew up.

There are various organisations to get involved in. When searching for a place to volunteer your time, it’s important to find an organisation that has a mission statement and value system in line with your own. It’s important because otherwise, you find yourself in conflict with doing what you need to do as a humanitarian and staying true to your values. However, with the wide variety of organisations located around the world, you will doubtlessly find the one that suits you.

You will come across NGO’s that have both a local and global presence, such as Medecins Sans Frontieres. It's through these types of organisations that you can get a local start while building the experience and contacts you need to later bridge the gap into global volunteering exposure.

Spread the word

Complete your good deeds by spreading the word, not for personal glory but to reach potential volunteers. Share your story on the rewards of volunteering in affected communities and express how easy it is to get involved. Organisations are constantly on the lookout for more hands, donations, and caring hearts and there are many people who have the right intentions but are unsure of what it takes to get involved.

Testimonials to close friends and amongst your local community will catch the ears of willing souls and will be the confirmation they were looking for to getting involved. You may not have the capacity to be a full-time volunteer but this means that you have the opportunity of spreading the word in your day job environments. You can even take it a step further and get permission to start a company volunteering committee as an effort to get colleagues and successful businesses involved in the welfare of humanity.


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